DUBAI, March 13 - RAPSI, Margarita Kislova. Iraq has filed some 40 lawsuits against different countries, demanding the return of valuable antiquities illegally taken from the country during the military invasion in 2003, Hussein ash-Shamri, the head of the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s Economic Crimes Department, told the Arabic-language edition of RIA Novosti.

“Iraq has opened 39 cases to investigate the circumstances surrounding the seizing of these valuable artifacts, which are now abroad, and to return them,” he said.

According to ash-Shamri, the department has a list of missing valuables that was forwarded to investigators by the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage.

The lawsuits and their respective rulings will soon be translated into foreign languages and sent to the countries where the historic valuables are located through the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Hussein ash-Shamri expressed hope that these countries will not hinder their return.

Numerous museums, monument sites and libraries were destroyed or looted in Iraq during the 2003 foreign military invasion of the country and the period following the overthrow of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's government.

The Iraqi authorities claim that the destroyed and missing items include invaluable ancient historical artifacts, archeological valuables, pieces of art, and rare books and manuscripts, many of which were later found outside the country.